Bloody henry starfish

Bloody Henry starfish

Bloody Henry starfish ©Polly Whyte/Earth in Focus

Bloody henry starfish

Scientific name: Henricia oculata or Henricia sanguinolenta
The bloody henry starfish is normally a bright purply-red colour and is found all around the UK.

Species information


Diameter: 10cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The name bloody henry starfish actually refers to two very similar starfish, Henricia oculata and Henricia sanguinolenta. This is because it is incredibly difficult to distinguish between the two, especially when seen underwater! The bloody henry starfish is sometimes found in rockpools at very low tides and lives on the seabed down to depths of over 100m. Despite its deceptive name, the Bloody henry starfish is less predatory than other starfish, feeding mainly on floating plankton and suspended matter. Though it will prey on sponges and other invertebrates if necessary! They are usually a bright purply-red colour (where they get their name from), but can also be brown, lavender or dark red. They sometimes have a blotchy pattern, like they've been covered in paint.

How to identify

The bloody henry starfish is a stiff rigid starfish with a sandpapery texture to the dorsal surface.
Its colour varies in reds, browns, purples and yellows. Large in size, on average reaching 10cm in diameter. However, the species can grow up to double that.


Found all around the UK.

Did you know?

Bloody henry starfish are one of the few starfish species to brood their eggs. The female deposits her eggs, wrapped in a sticky mucus, onto the seabed and then guards them with her raised body. The larvae remain in this Mum-made shelter after hatching. This allows them to grow a bit bigger and have a better chance of surviving (rather than becoming fish food!).

How people can help

When rockpooling, be careful to leave everything as you found it - replace any seaweed you move out of the way, put back any crabs or fish and ensure not to scrape anything off its rocky home. If you want to learn more about our rockpool life, Wildlife Trusts around the UK run rockpool safaris and offer Shoresearch training - teaching you to survey your local rocky shore. The data collected is then used to protect our coasts and seas through better management or through the designation of Marine Protected Areas.